Tai Chi-Qigong for Cerebral Palsy--Mary's Story

"There is this attitude shift--a sense of myself as a strong person and presence; like I'm not a person to mess with."

Mary came into class literally glowing and looking different as she sat in her electric-powered chair.  Mary has Cerebral Palsy, and previously she was kind of scrunched down in her chair and tilted over to the side.  She was unable to get her feet to rest squarely on the footpads, so during our exercises, she mostly did the breathing and some gentle motions with her hands. That’s the great thing about Qigong!  If you can breathe, you can benefit!  And even small movements can begin to get the body energized. The thing was that Mary persevered and kept coming to classes over a couple of years.

We talk a lot in class about mental practice, and we often repeat the mantra, “See it with your mind, feel it with your mind, do it with your body.”  All those times Mary was coming to class she was doing a lot of work in her mind.  She kept hearing about posture, and even though she couldn’t sit up straight, she took it to heart. She captured a vision of herself with a straighter body and with better posture that would help her feel better. She visualized what it would be like to sit up straight with her feet on the floor. She imagined it to the point that she went out and took action to get a new seating arrangement for her power chair. 

So here she was rolling into class sitting up straight!  Now, instead of looking at me somewhat from the side, she was looking directly at me!  The new posture helped her to breathe better and thus to have more energy. New footpads helped her feet rest squarely on them so that she had a sense of being connected and having some control of her balance and movement through her feet. 

Mary is usually rather quiet, but on this day she could hardly stop talking for excitement.  She wanted everyone to know how different she felt because she was able to sit up straight. All of those in the class were excited for her.  We love to celebrate the victories!  

Later, in an e-mail. Mary described her experience this way: 

I've heard it over and over, but I never got it until today--How much correct posture and having your feet firmly planted and spaced apart affects you psychologically and spiritually.  There is this attitude shift--a sense of myself as a strong person and presence; like I'm not a person to mess with.  I don't mean that in a defensive, angry way, just some kind of quiet reality that's absolutely true and unshakeable; non-negotiable.  It's lovely.  Gives new meaning to having a "power chair."  I would never have thought seating could make that much difference!”

Mary's story is an inspiring lesson about the power of visualization. I could not have guessed how Qigong would help her. I could not predict what her healing would look like. She was empowered to go out and make changes that would bring a new image of herself into reality. Mary is now able to put into practice what she was visualizing in all of those classes. She can sit straight, breathe, and "plant her feet"--physically and spiritually. We are happy for Mary, and we know there is more healing on the way. We would like for everyone to have their own version of a “power chair” that boosts their self image and gives confidence to face the world with a smile!

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